For weeks, we have reported on the demonstrators who assemble every Thursday afternoon outside the Radisson Suite Hotel Toronto Airport — a property that is anything but “sweet” these days. That’s because this Radisson is now being used as a federal COVID quarantine facility to imprison — er, house — Canadians returning to Canada.
But inexplicably, on one such occasion, I was charged with trespassing. What did I do? Kick in an emergency exit? Climb up the exterior wall à la Batman? No, I merely walked towards the hotel's front entrance, whereupon one set of sliding doors opened. Alas, another set of sliding doors remained closed, so I never made it into the lobby. The reason for my visit? To get the Radisson’s side of the story. But since nobody would greet me, my cameraman Mocha and I simply left.
Well apparently, attempting to visit the lobby of a hotel that is supposedly open to the public is... trespassing?
Well... yeah. Because members of the Toronto Police Service later paid a visit to my personal residence in Richmond Hill to serve me with a trespassing ticket!
Recently, we had our day in court.
Guess what? We apparently won by default. Which is to say, there was no record of the charge in the system.
That means one of two things: First, this was a bona fide clerical error (meaning the police have up to six months to serve me with an additional trespassing ticket). Or, the Crown looked at the evidence and decided there were no reasonable grounds for prosecution, and thus, dismissed the ticket.
I think the second scenario is more likely. After all, a hotel is not a personal residence — it is indeed open to the public. And check out what happened AFTER my visit to the Radisson: suddenly, signage appeared stating “No Trespassing” and “Private Property,” and a fence was erected to prevent anyone from reaching the front entrance. The question arises: why weren’t these warnings and barriers there on the day I came by?
In any event, it looks like it’s time for us to do a little victory dance. Sure, we won by default, but a “W” is a “W.” And besides, the charge was outrageous and ridiculous. We did not trespass; we were merely practicing journalism. That’s not a crime in Canada.
Well, at least not yet...